Learning Lent With Littles

I’ve gotten a little fired up about Lent, y’all.

The vast majority of Christendom has practiced this season for hundreds of years aaannndd I am not sure where I have been. Last year, I had the desire to get my kids equally, if not more, excited about Easter as Christmas.

On any given morning, EG wakes up messy-haired and bleary-eyed asking, “Is it Christmas?” To which I answer, “No, girl, it’s just a great day to be alive.” This cracks me up and also fires me up with a passion for us to celebrate the central truth that victoriously sets Christianity apart from commercialism, consumerism and all other religions on the planet. The historically recorded event that’s worthy of our deepest, most heartfelt daily celebration. The Resurrection!!!

But take it from me, the girl who consistently says “Black Friday” when I mean to say “Good Friday” and who may or may not have wiped what I thought was eye-shadow, off a girl’s forehead in hopes of saving her the embarrassment of walking around all smudged up on (what I now know to be) Ash Wednesday…I am a liturgical nightmare.

Learning and Loving Lent With Littles

The ESFJ in me really LOVES traditions, but I can get a little wound up with expectations. Not to mention that unexpectedly adding two children to our holiday routines didn’t give me much time to prep what we would and would not do. Even as a kid, holidays would bring a lot of anxiety, comparison and performance to the surface of my heart and I still have to fight that as an adult. (For the love of Peter Rabbit, one of our first marital blow-outs was in the lobby of Shandon Baptist on Easter Sunday…poor Joel. It’s not like he maliciously neglected to get me an Easter Basket!)

I’ve always wanted to have our rhythms and rituals in perfect place, but you can bet your seersucker suit that the high expectations have left me feeling flat and disappointed. I am having to lay them down and figure our family traditions out as each year comes.

Last year we LOVED Lent and I thought I’d share a little bit of how we are going to celebrate again this year, along with some tools I’ve found to be helpful. I hope that the “learning as we go” style of this post will be more helpful than a “we’ve got this thing nailed” approach.

Daily:

We made a purple paper chain (purple is the official color of Lent {news to me} with it’s symbolism of royalty as well as suffering, sorrow and grief) and hung it in our breakfast area, so *most* mornings as we settle in at the table, one child gets to take a link off the chain and share with the family what Lent means.

We finally figured out (literally yesterday) a succinct way to for the kids to articulate the meaning of Lent. And because we like to rhyme we say…“It’s a celebration of sadness for our sin and gladness that Jesus rose again!” 

Learning and Loving Lent With Littles

So we do the chain, share the quick reminder of the meaning and either a reading from Jesus Calling for Kids, Jesus Storybook Bible or this handy dandy Lent Reading schedule. That’s become our norm.

Weekly:

I’m trying to come up with one concrete visual each week that will help the kids (and ME!) connect Lent to our daily lives.

  • Week 1: Bowl of FlourThe Color Purple– I got this idea from Aimee, one of my mentors, who got it from Ann Voskamp, one of hers. I nearly wept as I offered my kids the bowl of cool flour for them to draw a cross on and talk to God about their sin (we sin a lot in trying to get ready for school) and then to see the light bulbs flicker in their little minds and hearts as we wiped the sins away and talked about Jesus washing sin away and making believers white as snow. Very real. Very tangible. Very powerful. Very messy, so the bowl only lasted the week. 
    Learning and Loving Lent With Littles
  • Week 2: Lenten Pretzels Who knew pretzels originated in the tradition of Lent? Gigi grabbed us a box of Fleischman’s pretzel mix and we had fun reading the story of pretzels. We also briefly talked about how God loved the world enough to send Jesus and how pretzels look like arms giving a hug (which was a traditional prayer position).
    Learning and Loving Lent With Littles
  • Week 3: Oil & Water & Draw a Name- The kids came home from Sunday School with a little water bottle full of oil and water and an excerpt of the Gospel Project curriculum telling the story of Ezekiel and sin separating us from God, but Him being the one to make dead bones rise again. We talked about that and it sorta connected. Instead of having the kids give something up for Lent to create an appetite for God, we are trying to think of fun ways to increase thinking about and communing with God. On Saturday, we each drew a name, then played a game where we had to stop and pray for that person each time we said their name throughout the day. It was silly and fun and it seemed to really get our attention on prayer (and there was less fighting with all the praying going on!)
  • Week 4: Crown of Thorns & Resurrection Eggs– We will be talking about Christ’s life from the cradle to the cross. My kids are enamored with both of these visuals and love reading “Lilly’s Easter Party” and this year we are thinking of hosting our own little gathering…we shall see.

We’ve also sucked the public library dry of any and all Easter books thanks to Elizabeth Foss’ incredible Lenten Book Basket List. And YOU SHOULD TOO! Like I get choked up as I think about last year as GrandB read “The Tale of Three Trees” to EG and I love the sweetness “Little Colt’s Palm Sunday”. If you like children’s books you’ll love Elizabeth’s list.

Learning and Loving Lent With Littles

Oh, and Sundays during Lent are considered “mini-Easters”, days to celebrate and commemorate the coming King. We’ve tried to make a more concerted effort to keep the Sabbath Day holy and fun. 

Sunday’s have been filled with waffles, extra time on the trampoline, glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunts (glow sticks tucked into Easter eggs and hidden around the house), naps, puzzles, movies, games, read-alouds and PAPER PLATES. Again, thank you, Aimee for teaching me so much and also Edie for her online presence and perspectives on Lent.

If you’d rather not click all jillion of the links I’ve put in this post, I’ve compiled this document with the reading schedule, a devotional reading from Desiring God and a word on celebrating Lent with kids from the makers of Veggie Tales.

I’d love to hear your experiences with Lent! Good? Bad? Indifferent? Anything you’d add or subtract to or from this post? As I looked around Pinterest and the inter webs for ways to celebrate Lent I was so saddened by how works-oriented this observance can be…but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post (which you should click and read!)…for me, I am enjoying the Lord in sweet ways and thought maybe you’d like to join me too!

And if you’re still reading this and need a good laugh, you’ll have to read the follow-up to this post, “Repenting of My Lenting–The Time We Decapitated the Easter Bunny”.

3 thoughts on “Learning Lent With Littles”

  1. Oh that means so much more than you know!! Thanks for visiting and sticking around. Hope I can get to know you more and hear your story as well! Xoxo

  2. Just read the article you linked and it was awesome. Giving up chocolate or coffee would definitely not make me more Christ-like. Ha! The last few years we’ve focused on service would make a small donation to a charity each week or sit down at the beginning of Lent and brainstorm acts of kindness that we could draw out of a hat. Things on our list included everything from baking something for a neighbor, buying coffee for my team at work, or sending notes in the mail. Doing something a little extra that required a sacrifice of our time or energy was a good reminder of the season. You rock for spending such intentional time with your little ones!

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